On Monday night, the last of the 6A regional championships were played at the Sequoyah High School War Lodge, securing the bracket for the first round of the state tournament. The vast majority of Cobb Schools going to states from 6A come from Region 6, with Pope as the lone exception, representing Region 7.
Wintry weather caused the Region 6 games that were scheduled for Saturday, February 8 to be moved to Monday. South Cobb played Sequoyah in the Girls consolation game, and Sprayberry was taking on Harrison in the Girls final. Sprayberry played Sequoyah in the Boys consolation, with Allatoona and South Cobb squaring off in the finals. The Pope boys and girls both won their consolation games on Saturday to enter states as third in Region 7.
The South Cobb Eagles got the games started, taking on the Sequoyah Chiefs in the Girls consolation game. This was the third meeting of the teams this season, and the record was tied at 1-1. It was a classic back and forth game, with Sequoyah taking a six-point lead into halftime. The Eagles battled back to take the lead at the end of the third quarter, but turnovers in the fourth quarter caused by the Chiefs’ pressure defense was the difference-maker. The Eagles lost a tough one by two points, 61-63. Senior Jodi Mullins was South Cobb’s high-scorer with 17 points.
Next up were the Sprayberry Yellow Jackets playing the Sequoyah Chiefs in the boys consolation game. It was the third meeting of the teams and Sprayberry was looking to bounce back from two losses to the Chiefs earlier in the season. The Yellow Jackets got behind early, and played catch-up the entire game. They got within two points near the end of the third quarter, but Chief shooters quickly drained two 3-pointers to end the quarter up by six points. The game ended with the same spread, 72-78.
Yellow Jacket Head Coach Marc Carver was disappointed but optimistic about his team’s performance. “We played better tonight,” he said. “We got man-handled by South Cobb on Friday, but tonight we looked like a team that has progressed and gotten better over the season. We put up a good fight with a very good team tonight, and I was pleased with our effort.”
The Sprayberry girls were up next, taking on the Harrison Hoyas girls in the region final. The teams were 1-1 against each other in the regular season, with the Yellow Jackets handing the Hoyas their only conference loss. The re-match was highly anticipated, and the girls didn’t disappoint.
The game was high-energy and exciting from the tip-off to the final buzzer. The Hoya girls battled back several times after Sprayberry gained momentum. The Hoyas pulled within a single point early in the final quarter, but a flurry of Yellow Jacket scoring in the last minute and a half of the game sealed the win for Sprayberry, 52-47. The Yellow Jacket fans chanted “Avery,” “Avery,” in honor of head coach Kelly Avery.
“The girls have really bought into the program,” Coach Avery said. “They trust me to set the expectations and to coach them how they need. None of the current team members have played in a state playoff game, so the biggest work is mental. The girls need to have the right mindset to be able to stay calm and focused under pressure. We showed tonight that we have the skills and the talent, but we will need to stay focused on the task at hand.”
The final game of the night was the boys final. The Allatoona Buccaneers were squaring off against the South Cobb Eagle boys for the regional championship. The Eagles had won the previous two meetings, but Buc head coach Chad Phillips had his team prepared for battle. The first half was a balanced game, with both teams showing patience and poise by passing well and waiting for lanes to open. The Eagles took a one-point lead into halftime, 22-23.
The third quarter did not go Coach Phillips way however, as the Bucs couldn’t get any shots to drop, while it seemed like the Eagles couldn’t miss. South Cobb basically doubled their first-half production in the third quarter alone, ending the period up big, 28-45. The Bucs kept fighting in the fourth, showing no-quit and pure grit, but they still couldn’t get enough shots to drop. The Eagles took the win and the region with a 45-52 win to the delight of the South Cobb fans that made the hour and a half trip north.
Eagle head coach Greg Moultrie was excited for what the win shows about the program. “Huge accomplishment for the kids,” he said. “With this being our third regional win in a row, it shows just how far we’ve come and the leaps and bounds we’ve taken. But we need to get some guys healthy and regroup in order to be ready for the first round of the state playoff.”
Coach Moultrie received the boys Region Coach of the Year award, and Coaches Avery and Steve Lenahan (Harrison) received the Region Co-Coaches of the Year award for the girls. Jodi Mullins was voted as Region Player of the Year for the girls.
“I am humbled,” Coach Avery said. “To have been chosen co-coach of the year after just 2 years of being a head coach is a huge honor. I am excited to continue on.”
In the first round of state play for the girls, Harrison hosts Winder-Barrow, Pope travels to Douglas County, South Cobb travels to Dacula, and Sprayberry hosts Habersham Central. For the boys, Allatoona hosts Dacula, Pope travels to Douglas County, South Cobb hosts Winder-Barrow, and Sprayberry travels to Lanier.
Good luck to all CCSD teams! Great job getting to States!